PHILADELPHIA - The Phillies planned for Aaron Nola to lead Philadelphia to its first postseason appearance since 2011.
The Phillies needed the starting pitcher to perform like one of the National League's best.
Instead, he's staring to fade and with 19 games left in the season that means trouble.
The Atlanta Braves beat the Phillies and Nola 7-2 before 25,071 fans at Citizens Bank Park on Monday night.
Philadelphia (74-69) trails the Chicago Cubs by 2.5 games in the race for the second National League wild card spot.
Nola allowed six hits and four runs in six innings.
"I’m not panicking at all, Nola said. "It happens. It’s baseball. I’m not going to have it every start. You have bad ones. I had a bad couple innings, but I wanted to give the guys a chance and I felt like I did for the most part."
Braves leadoff hitter Ronald Acuna Jr. hit the second pitch of the game - a 95.4 mph fastball - 401 feet into the stands to give the Braves a 1-0 lead. Nola allowed two more hits and another run in the first inning.
"I didn't have command of any of my pitches," Nola said. "My fastball was leaking. I missed pretty bad with my spot (to Acuna). He didn't miss the ball."
Nola did not allow a hit in his final four innings but by then it was too late, especially with the way Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz was pitching.
Foltynewicz retired the first 13 Phillies he faced before Corey Dickerson broke up the perfect game with a home run to right field.
"They just flat out-played us, and we have to get better," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said of the Braves.
The Phillies planned to pitch Nola every five days until the season ends. But after going 6-2 in July and August with a 2.88 ERA, Nola is 0-2 in September and has allowed nine runs in 10 innings.
On Monday, Nola threw 99 pitches, more than half of them curveballs and changeups.
"He doesn't have as much command of (his fastball) right now," Kapler said. "When he doesn't he's so creative, he's going to go to something else that he feels will be more effective"
Nola (12-5 with a 3.70 ERA) has thrown 184 2/3 innings this season after throwing a career-high 212 1/3 last season. He insisted he feels fine
"My body is healthy," he said. "My arm feels good."
Monday began a six-game, Phillies homestand that features three more games against the Braves (90-55) and two Saturday and Sunday against the Boston Red Sox (76-68).
The Phillies plan to continue to send Nola to the mound every fifth day.
"We want to get every start out of him that we possibly can," Kapler said. "He maintained his stuff throughout (Monday's) outing and got stronger as the game went on. He's always our best option."